Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Partap Singh Bajwa on Monday said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ministers in the state's SAD-BJP government "should admit that deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal is dictating their departments and they are mere figureheads".
Taking a dig at the recent tension between the partners over the relatively bad Lok Sabha poll performance in Punjab, Bajwa also termed the SAD-BJP alliance as "opportunistic" and said it was "interesting" that the Akali Dal had blamed its alliance partner "for the backbreaking burden of property tax and illegal sand mining on the logic that both these departments were with the BJP".
"Can the local bodies and the industries ministers have courage to admit the fact that it is
Sukhbir who is running their departments? The industrial policy was announced by the deputy CM while the then industries minister Anil Joshi was sitting on the sideline. Similarly, the local bodies minister was a mute spectator when the property tax was imposed. The fact is that the BJP ministers have failed to perform any effective role in the government", he added. "In the process, the BJP has ditched its own support base."
Bajwa said the people had given vent to their anger against the BJP in the urban areas as the party's ministers failed to stand up against the "dictatorial attitude" of the deputy CM. He pointed out, "Sukhbir has no special powers and his office [of deputy CM] is not statutory; it's just ceremonial. The deputy CM is like any other minister but the BJP has failed to resist him. This is the reason that a stalwart like Arun Jaitley faced a humiliating defeat in Amritsar."
He noted that senior BJP leader Balramji Dass Tandon "had the courage to point out the reasons for the performance of the Akali Dal-BJP combine despite the 'Narendra Modi wave' in other parts of the country".